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5 Tips for Including Pets in Your Wedding Ceremony

Published Monday, Dec. 10th, 2018

A close up photo of a cute dog with a black spot over its eye wearing a black bowtie. Behind the dog are the bride and groom, visible from the waist down, in their wedding dress and suit, holding hands. They are all posing in an open farm field, with green grass.
Who wouldn't want this Best Dog to lead them down the aisle?

Pets are part of the family! Make them a part of the wedding day, too. 



We’re a 50/50 split between dog-people and cat-people here at AMM, but one thing that we all agree on is that there is most definitely a place for pets in wedding ceremonies.


If you’re a pet person, your partner probably already knows that you and your fur baby are a package deal. Your pet is an important part of your life, so it makes sense that they would have a role in your wedding day. (Plus, you know the photos will be adorable...)


But weddings can be loud, disorienting, and distracting, especially for your cat, rabbit, or pup, so it’s important to prepare properly. 


We asked around the office, and the following tips represent the combined pet-ownership and wedding ceremony planning experience of the AMM staff. 



Nova, the American Marriage Ministries pet, in a tie

This is Nova, she's been with AMM for about five years now...



5 Tips for Including Pets in Your Wedding Ceremony


1. Embrace the chaos!


Pets are unpredictable, but that’s part of why we love them so much. If making your pet a part of the ceremony is important to you, be sure to tell your officiant as early as possible! Whether they're a seasoned pro or a friend, they'll need as much time as possible to plan and prepare accordingly, for the most successful, pet-inclusive ceremony possible. 


Related: How to Ask Someone to Officiate Your Wedding - Our Favorite Way to Say 'Will You Marry Us?'


Our advice is to plan for something unexpected to happen, and then just have fun. If your pooch is going to be the ring bearer, watch out for squirrels, and make sure he's on a leash. You don’t want guests scrambling after your furry friend at any time during the day, but especially not during the ceremony. Of course, that same unpredictability is half of the fun, so don’t get stressed if it doesn't all go exactly as anticipated!



2. Have realistic expectations.


If your cat doesn’t come when you call her at home, she probably won’t listen to you just because it’s your big day. (After all, she’s not a bridesmaid.) That’s why it’s so important to be realistic about what to expect, and what to aim for. If your kitty isn’t particularly sociable or well behaved on any regular day, perhaps it’s better to just include her in the wedding photos and opt to leave her at home. 



3. Understand that not everyone is a “dog-person.”


(Or a cat-person, rabbit-person, guinea-pig-person, or snake-person.) You want your guests to feel comfortable and relaxed, which is why it’s important to make sure that people who are afraid of certain animals, or perhaps allergic, are taken into consideration. That doesn’t mean your puppy or python shouldn't be included, it just means that your guests should know about your pet coming in advance, so that they can avoid an aisle seat - and/or take their antihistamines for the event.


Here’s another thing to consider: is your pet good around people?


A dog that jumps up on guests will not be appreciated. If your dog has a tendency to behave in this way, teach him an alternative way of showing his excitement, such as greeting people by giving his paw rather than jumping around. Remember, it’s going to be a very exciting experience for your pet, and if his excitement level is too high, he may be unable to control his impulses — in which case, make sure that he is leashed and controlled at all times.


Related: 7 Alternatives to Walking Down the Aisle



A cat in a bow tie, ready for the wedding ceremony!

Easily the prettiest member of the wedding party...



4. Make sure your venue allows animals. 


This one is pretty simple, but a quick call or email in advance can prevent absolute heartbreak -- and a scramble to change the ceremony at the last minute.


The reality is that many municipal codes restrict the access of pets in venues where food is being served, and many private venues implement their own restrictions. If you're determined to have a dog or cat-friendly wedding, make sure that your facility and the rental agreement allow for it.



5. Make sure there's a designated pet-sitter, and that water and food are on hand. 


Weddings -- especially outdoor events in the summer -- can be long and hot affairs, so make sure your pooch (or cat, or other animal friend) is well-fed, hydrated, and generally well taken care of at all times.


Since you’re going to be busy, well, getting married, arrange for a friend or family member to be responsible for pet-sitting duties. Remember, when the big day comes the last thing you want is to scramble for a poop bag in your wedding gown. Or worse - acquire fresh scratch marks just in time for photos!


Related: How to Include Family and Friends In Your Wedding Ceremony


Including pets in weddings is a growing trend, and one that we strongly support! Just work closely and plan ahead with your officiant, guests, and venue(s), and then enjoy your wedding day with all of the folks you love -- even the furry, four-legged ones.


Updated April 2022




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Two cats in wedding clothes, one is yawning

Cats in love... meow and forever


See more adorable pets in Weddings For Pets Are Gaining Popularity




Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

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